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Magic Moment #8 - April 10, 1999 - Arcadia Invitational
'Welcome to the lion's den.'
Darrell Rideaux devours Casey Combest

by John Dye

Pre-race woofing in the media is not usually part of the high school track scene. This was an exception.

Casey Combest of Kentucky was fresh off a 60 meter national record and a feature in Sports Illustrated. Then he announced that he wanted to take down the meet record at the Arcadia Invitational the following month.

"Welcome to the lion's den," was the response of Darrell Rideaux, Poly Long Beach CA star who was more than willing to play the typical Arcadia role of rude host to the nation's stars.

It was an early chapter in the battle of competing indoor championships. On the same day that Combest set the 60m record in the inaugural Nike Indoor Nationals (nee Nike Indoor Classic) at Ohio State University in 6.57, faster than the NCAA champion the same weekend, Rideaux won the 60 meters at the established National Scholastic Indoor at Reggie Lewis Center in Boston.

The California lion devoured the Kentucky wildcat with drama that lived up to advance hype. Combest got off to the rocket start that got him the the record in Columbus. But after 60 meters, Rideaux started gaining. Rideaux got the lead and stormed to victory. The beaten Combest eased up at the finish and faded to 5th. Rideaux won in 10.65 (-1.7).

We wrote then: "
As Combest walked slowly away head down, Rideaux turned and screamed in victory to an appreciative sold out crowd; then he held his arms out like airplane wings and took curving victory glides back up the straightaway to full throated cheers."

Doug Speck's Preview of the Race

Casey Combest (Owensboro, Ky), hotter than a pistol off a National High School Indoor Record 60 meters (6.57), will battle Darrell Rideaux (Poly, Long Beach), the nation's #2 prep 100m dasher (10.36) outdoors last year. Interestingly, in mid-March Combest was the winner of the 60m in the Nike Indoor Class in Columbus, Ohio in his national-record time while Rideaux was the winner over the same distance at the National Scholastic Indoor in Boston.

They will head to Arcadia to sort out the "true national championship." Long Beach Poly's other sprint star, Kareem Kelly, the nation's top returning 200m dasher (20.76) will lead a top group of 200 meter runners.

Doug Speck's story of the race

Boys 100 meters -
"One of the events everyone came for took place here. Kentucky's Casey Combest had been the hit of the indoor season with a 6.19 55m and amazing 6.57 National Record in the 60 Meter dash that took down a solid standard set by Deworski Odom, who had wowed the Arcadia crowd with a dual hurdle/100 meter win a few years back.

"The guy who could take down Deworski's Indoor 60m record, as Combest had, by .05 over the short 60 meter distance had to be special!!! To top it, Combest had run 10.1
hand-timed the previous weekend in Alabama. Southern California's challenger, Darrell Rideaux, had won the State Meet last year and run 10.36 for 100 meters. In mid-March Rideaux had won the National Scholastic Indoor 60 Meter event, but a full two tenths slower than Combest took the Ohio Nike Indoor Classic meet.

"Local fans relished such a match-up!! Some great quotes would surround the affair, but we'll get to those soon.

"The weather was a bit bizarre. When the sun goes down at about 7:00 pm here the wind usually dies to nothing. This evening a cloudy front was moving in, and it was preceded by some very cold weather and gusty headwinds that dropped the temperature quite a bit by 100 meter racetime.

"Combest had his usual great start, with a definite lead over the first 40-50 meters. At 60 meters the odds were very much against Rideaux, but this is a USC-bound football player who is very, very strong. The Poly star certainly had not given up mentally, gathering for a big effort over the final 40 meters, with the race positioning amazingly changing two full meters in a 25 meter point between 65 and 90 meters, where Rideaux was definitely going to be the winner. Combest shut it down at 85 meters, eventually ending up back in fifth.

"Rideaux raced 10.65 into a -1.7 meter per second head wind, with teammate Sammie Parker next at 10.83.

"Rideaux celebrated, turning to the sell-out crowd, then swooping down part of the sprint straightaway with arms spread wide, gliding across the lanes in celebration.

"Combest had talked of coming in and taking down the meet record. Rideaux had replied in an interview, "Welcome to the Lion's den." After the race Rideaux commented, "When you go into the Lion's den and step on his tail, you are bound to get bit."

"Poly fans shouted to Combest as he headed down the straightaway after the race that he had competed well, but "it was not rabbit season in California at this time." (the Poly mascot is the Jackrabbit).

"It was all done in the spirit of great competition, with Combest at first mentioning the conditions as a factor in his running, then later commenting that this was just one of those
days when he did not have it. In his defense it was one of those trips where details went awry (his luggage lost at the airport, some transporations gliches that were not he or his father's making, etc.), but one sensed a "back to the drawing board" approach afterwards by this star who has been all the way to the World Junior Championship level (he brought back a silver medal from that meet in France last summer).

"There will be other races. "

Sadly, however, there were no more races of consequence for Combest after his trip to the lion's den.

Our photos of the Combest-Rideaux race have been lost in cyberspace, a casualty of one of our server changes over the years. 


DyeStat coverage of 1999 Arcadia - http://www.dyestat.com/9out/us/april/arcadia/index.htm

1999 Nike Indoor Classic http://www.dyestat.com/9in/us/meets/mar/nike313/index.htm

NEXT: Another stellar highlight at Arcadia -- Nik Arrhenius' national record discus throw.

Magic Moments index